The markets for DTG printers are growing, thanks to changes in apparel retailing, new inks, better RIPs, easier-to-use printers, and ready-to-print DTG garments.
Some DTG owners and apparel brands share the vision of Kornit and other OEMs that environmental concerns and the continued growth of online apparel purchasing will erode the number of garments that will be mass produced and warehoused. On-demand garment production would reduce the number of mass-produced garments that end up on clearance-sale racks or in landfills. While screen printing will always offer major advantages in ink costs and versatility, those distinctions could be tempered as more apparel manufacturers choose to reduce inventory and shipping costs by only making garments that people have ordered.
Some analysts envision local microfactories in which apparel fabrics will be printed, cut, and sewn on demand close to where the garments will be shipped. Within the next 10 years, brick-and-mortar retail stores might not house racks and racks of clothing. Instead, stores might function as physical showrooms for merchandise that can be ordered via smartphone.
In the following recap of recent DTG ink and printer developments, you’ll see that some DTG manufacturers are developing inks that enable DTG printer users to expand the range of designs they can profitably produce on a wider range of fabrics. But printer OEMs are also striving to grow the market for on-demand printing by developing faster DTG printing systems to handle higher volumes of on-demand print jobs. To enable larger capacities of high-quality short-run jobs, DTG users will need software that can prevent human errors such as using the wrong image or garment type or selecting the incorrect print settings for different combinations of fabrics and pretreatments. If high-volume garment decorating jobs are distributed to smaller DTG sites for fast delivery to customers in different regions of the US, color management will need to be automated as well.
Earlier this year, Epson announced the SureColor F2100 direct-to-garment printer. It is designed to supplement or replace one of the most popular DTG printers currently used in screen-printing shops — the Epson SureColor F2000. Although the F2100 includes dozens of new features designed to boost print speeds and automate daily maintenance routines, the platens and other accessories currently used with the Epson SureColor F2000 can be used with the F2100.
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